Filed under: Healthy Swellness

Healthy Swellness: Equine therapy in King City with Jennifer Schramm

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Early this summer, I was invited to try a session of equine therapy in King City, Ontario. I had never heard of equine therapy, but I love the idea of quality time with horses so I accepted the invite to join Jennifer Schramm to try a session of equine therapy so that I could get a taste of what her workshops, Unbridled Experiences, are like.

I arrived and Jennifer and I spent the first part of the session chatting inside. And then we stepped outside to the barn to meet the horses. As our first exercise, she had me meet each horse but I wasn’t to pet them. After spending a few minutes with them, she asked me what I’d noticed about each horse. I could tell one seemed more impatient and distracted (and I guessed he was the youngest), another was more calm, quiet and seemed more sensitive (this indeed was the oldest horse) and the third horse was somewhere between the two. Jenn told me my assessments were quite accurate. It’s pretty interesting what you can read about an animal by just being in their presence.

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So I learned from my two-hour session that there are different types of equine therapy and it can be beneficial for a wide range of issues. For example, it can be a helpful therapy for children with autism; from what I learned from Jenn, the therapy then revolves more of the routine of caring for the animal and being in the moment and being in tune with the animal’s cues.

But the therapy session I took part in was crafted around more around self discovery; considering an issue or area of one’s life you’re coping with and seeking some answers to, and through exercises with the horses, drawing some insight on how your actions, motivations and behaviour are affecting that area of your life.  Horses are powerful, sensitive and emotional animals, though, and through that, they can help reveal things about yourself you may not even realize.

This might be easier to illustrate with a hypothetical scenario. For example, let’s say you’re feeling lonely because you feel like friends have been distancing themselves from you and this is the issue you’re focusing on for your session. I did a few different exercises with the horses, but one I did with the oldest horse involved having to get her to move through two pylons I’d set up, but without pulling or pushing her to direct her that way. If you (as “lonely person with no friends”) were doing this drill and were really impatient and angry with the horse, you might come to realize that those aspects of your personality and how you’ve been treating your chums may be what is making your friends shy away from you.

I can tell you it took awhile but eventually the horse made her way through those pylons, but only after I got a bit of guidance from Jenn. To finish the session, we headed indoors where we chatted some more and she asked me to jot down my thoughts just for myself to process the day’s session.

I wasn’t in a rush so before I left, Jenn introduced me to her mini pony, Paddington, who that day was being kept in the stables as he was a bit under the weather. He’s an absolute darling.

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After one short session, I can’t say if I’m entirely a proponent personally for equine therapy, but I think if it works for you, or you’re seeking something different in your journey of therapy and self discovery, go for it. I will say that some quiet quality time with the horses, and simply having time to focus and connect with your own thoughts and feelings and issues you’re dealing with does feel quite therapeutic in and of itself. Whether one can glean and learn from the interactions with the horses is something I’d have to explore much more of.

For more about Jennifer and her equine therapy Unbridled Experiences workshops in King City, visit www.jenniferschramm.com.

Paddington

Leave a Comment August 10, 2017

Travel Swellness: 5 musts for the first-time Toronto visitor (and a discount for your next BOOKING.COM trip!)

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Traveling is a passion of mine but after a whirlwind couple of years in and out of town, I definitely need to balance it with quality time at home in Toronto. And even though I spend a lot of time escaping the city, there is definitely a lot to love about TO. If a friend who had never visited Toronto, what would I take them to go see in Toronto? Here’s my personal guide to some of my favourites in the 6 for those who’ve never been to T.O. (and if you’re planning on booking a trip, be sure to use this booking.com link to get a discount on your travel booking!).

Visit the CN Tower. Yes, it’s touristy (possibly the most touristy thing), but these attractions are popular for a reason. I’ve done the CN Tower Edgewalk, and it’s thrilling and fun if you’re not scared of heights, but even just going to get the view of the city on a clear day, it’s fantastic. I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, though; have been up the Empire State Building as a kid, and to Vancouver Lookout. the SkyDeck in Chicago, and Sky100 in Hong Kong. Nothing like the breathtaking views of the city below you to remind you that you are just a small speck in this big beautiful world of ours.

Tour Casa Loma. I think I became enamoured with Casa Loma as a teen reading a YA book and the characters went to Casa Loma on a date. And then I finally got the chance to visit it when I moved to Toronto. I have been back once or twice for events, and I just love that there’s this magical little castle in the middle of the city. I bet you’ll fantasize about being of royal descent and living there, just like I maybe (totally) have.

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Run along the Lake Shore. Or walk or bike. Not all of it the route pretty, but how can you not love the pretty pink beach umbrellas at Sugar Beach or the phenomenal view of the downtown skyline from the new Trillium Park and William G. Davis Trail (which is just off of the Lake Shore trail)?

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Eat. Eat. Eat. One of the things I feel so fortunate about living here is the wealth of good food we have here. I don’t go to very many places regularly because there are so many options, but some spots off the top of my head that you should try: go for a burger and fries at the beautiful Café Cancan (it’s the pretty pastel nistro pictured above); go with an empty stomach to Bar Raval and eat as many tapas as you can (even better if you’re a bigger group so you can try as much as the menu as possible); have dim sum at Rol San in Chinatown; carb load at Buca downtown (their pizzas — especially the burrata pizza, oh my gosh, so good — and pastas are simply beyond; that’s their carbonara pictured below); do a little taco tour and hit up Grand Electric, La Carnita and Campechano; stop into Momofuku Noodle (it’s in the Shangri-La Hotel, which is one of my favourite hotels to stay in when I travel, their service is always top notch) for some pork belly bao and to slurp up a bowl of ramen.

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Hike in Rouge Valley National Park. The Rouge Valley Park is a new discovery for me. It’s outside of the core, but there’s now Parkbus that’ll get you there. I know when I travel to cities, it’s busy and noisy and sometimes I just need a half-day to decompress. Getting out into some nature and solitude is what works best for me, and the park is green and pretty.

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Not motivated to drive an hour to Rouge Valley? Stay central and pop over to Trinity Bellwoods Park or to High Park for a summer picnic.

Now, ready to book your next trip? Here’s how you can save some money:

Inspired to go travel, whether it’s to come here to Toronto, or anywhere in the world? Well, here’s a little gift for you: book through www.booking.com using this exclusive link (it’s my exclusive refer-a-friend link), and you’ll get a $40 discount from your reservation. That money you save could go towards a great meal, or tickets to a show, or whatever you choose to do on your adventures!

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And I’d love to hear about your travels! I’m always looking for wanderlust inspiration!

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3 Comments July 24, 2017

Healthy Swellness: 6 ways your Rexall pharmacist can help you

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Who are the people in your health squad? I keep it pretty simple: I’ve got my doctor, my massage therapists (although I haven’t seen either of my two fave RMTs in ages…sigh), my chiropractor, and my running buddies (they count, don’t they?)—I’d say those are the core people. But I will admit: I don’t ever take advantage of getting more from my visits to the pharmacist other than to having my prescriptions filled.

But last week, when I attended the launch of the new Rexall Brunswick House, I got to chat with the pharmacy manager, Jessie Chen, and learned that you miss out on benefiting your health when you don’t draw from your pharmacist’s expertise.

“Often people come in with it comes to cold and flu symptoms, seasonal allergies, heartburn, stomach upset, dry eyes, headaches—they come into the pharmacy first for something over the counter that can provide some relief,” says Chen. She says about 50 percent of her work with patients is helping with these issues, and the other half is focused on prescriptions.

Other ways your pharmacist can help you?

  • “We can administer flu shots, and recently in Ontario (every province has different regulations), we were approved to administer other vaccines, such as the shingles vaccine and HPV vaccine.”
  • Your pharmacist can take your blood pressure. The pharmacy is equipped with a blood pressure machine and if you wish, they can create a tracking card for you and link it to your medication profile so you can monitor it over time.
  • Your pharmacist can help you quit your smoking habit. Pharmacists can provide smoking cess counselling, recommend certain nicotine replacement products, and prescribe sme smoking cessation medications, and provide follow-ups with patient over time, says Chen.
  • “We can help you when buying over-the-counter products,” says Chen. “It’s a good idea to consult with your pharmacist. Sometime people think because something is herbal or if it’s vitamins, it’s safe, but there could be potential interactions. Pharmacists are a good resource to help identify if any interactions and whether or not that product is a good choice for you,” she says. If you’re pregnant, for example, there may be some products with limited research on them and the pharmacist can identify when you would want to exercise caution.
  • Your pharmacist can also help determine when you need the help of another health expert. “Our recommendations are tailored to the patient, so we take some basic health information, such as symptoms, and drug allergies, and find out what medications they’re currently taking to keep in mind possible drug interactions, and from there we can assess whether seeing their doctor is necessary.”

Since there are so many ways you can work with your pharmacist when it comes to your health, you should choose a pharmacist you feel comfortable with. “Health and wellness if the core of our business,” says Chen. She recommends selecting someone you feel you can open up to and be honest with, since open communication and trust is the key for it being a successful relationship.

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And btw, in case you’re worried about the Brunny now being occupied by a Rexall, you should know that Rexall worked with the city’s Historic Preservation Service and restored the exterior and interior elements. In fact, the original keg barrel bar is now the main checkout area. The chandeliers and tin ceiling are originals that have been restored.

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And while those are elements of the building you can check out anytime when you shop here, if you pop in now, you’ll have a chance to have a peek at the Rexall Brunswick House Music Artifacts Exhibition, which included memorabilia from artists who’ve played on the Brunny’s stage, including Jeff Healey and Oscar Peterson. But check it out soon, because all of these artifacts are soon being shipped to Studio Bell, the National Music Centre in Calgary (which I got a chance to preview before it opened when I was in Calgary last spring—it’s definitely worth a visit!).

Photo credit: Evan Bergstra/Ryan Emberley Photography

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Leave a Comment May 2, 2017

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